Feb 18, 2011

Should we be sympathetic to the Wisconsin govt employees?

I've never liked unions.  My news reporter experience years ago gave me a bad taste and I found them exactly the Teamster-like, Jimmy Hoffa  stereotype.  In your face, strong-arm, extortionists who will say "pay us what we want or we'll shut down your business and beat the shit out of scabs who don't go along with us!"  Like Chicago-style pizza, it's just way too spicy for most of us.

EVEN SO.  Until yesterday, I was sympathetic to their cause against the union busting Wisconsin governor, who did what Reagan did in 1981 when breaking PATCO... the air traffic controllers.  I knew THEM very well too for I covered their strike and subsequent FAA lockout.   The highly-educated ATC people who safely landed us at airports didn't act like asshole, punk truck drivers or aircraft machinists.  You might remember, Reagan brought in the Air Force tower people to lock out Patco and the ATC people didn't come back with billyclubs.  But still, they were out of work forever, thanks RR.

But I forgot about all that.  After watching ED on MSNBC last night, doing an unabashed cheer-leading for the teachers, firefighters, et al, I was cheering for the government workers and their union contracts.  Said more than a few, "how can we pay our bills without our (fully paid) benefits?.  So patriotic.  Hell, I'm wavin the flag!    Yaaay 'middle class' workers against the evil Governor.   The trouble is, their deal's not the same as MY deal!

There was another MSNBC report this morning.   I do understand that union wages do set the ideal for wages in the US.  More or less.  In my case, it was mostly less.  I've never had benefits as generous as government employees!  What a sweetheart deal THEY got!  Job security, full retirement and health care for life.  Me?  It was always employment at WILL and every year, I had to pay more for my health insurance.  Not even matching contributions for retirement usually.

Money Quote.  This morning's comparative story about public versus private wages reminded me that GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES have much better benefits than most of us private-enterprise TAXPAYERS do.  We generally paid most of our family health care insurance, not our companies.  Maybe Zerox and AT&T and Ford pay well because they've been extorted by their unions.  But most of us aren't union people.  85 percent of us don't get those generous benefits!!

Yet we pay THEIR benefits inside the price of our cars, phone services, and our taxes.  What's so fair about that?  Why should we worry about THEM, who have a better deal than WE do?

Maybe unions need to realize they have to let the marketplace dictate the benefits--like WE do!  Which is why the Japanese have overtaken the auto industry.  Maybe the unions have priced their employees out of the marketplace.  Should Government workers get more MONEY than the taxpayers who pay their salaries and benefits?

I'm not sure I can support unions who have a better deal that I've traditionally had.  Jeez, that sounds so capitalist!  Just sayin.  Agree?

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